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Monday, October 15, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Nets 98, Wizards 88

By Mike Mazzeo



WHAT IT MEANS: At 7:41 p.m. Monday, basketball tipped off in Brooklyn.

While it won’t count in the standings, the Brooklyn Nets played their first game at the $1 billion Barclays Center, topping the Washington Wizards, 98-88, in the preseason.

WHAT’S GOOD:
1. The Nets’ ball movement was crisp and their spacing was on-point for much of the night. This comes as no surprise considering they have so many offensively gifted players with a ton of experience on their roster.

2. Joe Johnson’s versatility is going to come in handy. The $89 million All-Star did a terrific job anchoring the team’s second unit, which featured C.J. Watson, Josh Childress, Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche, at the start of the second and fourth quarters. Johnson (14 points in 38 minutes) is going to get plenty of open shots, and he’s quite adept at knocking them down. He can play both guard positions, post up on the block and is a competent defender.

3. Brook Lopez overcame a slow start to post another solid performance. After scoring 19 points and grabbing rebounds in the team’s preseason opener, the 24-year-old center posted 18 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes on Monday night.

4. Watson is tremendous in transition because of his speed and ability to change direction. On the break, the backup point guard used an impressive crossover to get to the rim and finish a layup in the second quarter.

5. Blatche and Childress, who are trying to make the team after signing make-good contracts in the offseason, both played well. Blatche (16 points, 8 rebounds in 22 minutes), now in much better shape was active in the paint, finished off a few dunks inside and was active on the glass. Childress was all over the floor, and displayed a high basketball IQ when he cut backdoor, caught a pass from Blatche and converted a slam.

WHAT’S BAD:
1. The Nets’ defense continues to be a work in progress. As expected, their interior defense -- specifically Lopez and Humphries -- was lousy and they gave up too many open looks overall. They also had trouble chasing Wizards rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal off screens, and he made them pay.

2. The crowd, 14,219 strong (capacity is 17,732), seemed to be in preseason form. The first “Let’s Go Brook-lyn!” chant didn’t come until the 2:30 mark of the third quarter. The first “Brooook-lyn” that Williams hoped for didn’t come until the 3:04 mark of the fourth. Things will probably be much louder on Nov. 1 for the Knicks game.

3. Deron Williams’ shot selection was suspect early. With so much talent around him, there’s really no need for the team’s best player to be forcing fadeaway 3-pointers. D-Will finally got it going in the third quarter, and dished out nine assists.

4. Teletovic looks like he’s having a tough time transitioning to the NBA game. That’s to be expected. Still, the Bosnian stretch forward looked disengaged and timid. As Teletovic showed overseas, he can flat-out score, but he’s going to have to be more assertive and aggressive when he’s on the floor. He did nail a 3 in the fourth quarter.

5. Nothing he can do about it, but MarShon Brooks missed another game due to tendinitis in his right foot. There’s no doubt he can play, but it’d be nice for him to be able to get accustomed to playing with his new teammates. Plus, veteran defender/shooter Keith Bogans played well in limited minutes, and coach Avery Johnson loves Bogans.

TEMPERS FLARE: D-Will was upset at A.J. Price for a flagrant foul with 56.5 seconds left. Both were assessed technicals as a result.

INSIDE ACCESS: The Nets’ locker room corridor is incredible. There is a nice sized workout room for the players, two hot tubs and the locker room itself is spacious with a massive TV on the wall for watching scouting tape. The players do not have TVs or computers in their lockers, though.

Inside the arena bowl, the team’s ABA title and Eastern Conference championship banners are black and white. The Nets elected to go with theater lighting a la MSG and Staples Center. They were wearing their road uniforms.

UP NEXT: The Nets head to Boston to take on the Celtics on Tuesday night in the second half of a back-to-back.